Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 8/19/12
In the midst of a major rebuilding project, the Houston Astros are now looking for a new manager. After firing Brad Mills along with two coaches, the woeful Astros return to the field Sunday trying to prevent a season-series sweep by the Diamondbacks. Houston (39-82) has by far the worst record in the majors and is on pace to surpass last season's team-record 106 losses after dropping 39 of its last 46. Following Saturday night's 12-4 defeat to the Diamondbacks, the Astros fired Mills, hitting coach Mike Barnett and first-base coach Bobby Meacham. The players weren't told about the moves before leaving the ballpark, and no immediate replacements were named, though a Sunday morning news conference has been called by first-year general manager Jeff Luhnow to announce an interim manager. The Astros' struggles are hardly surprising given their young roster, which has a payroll of just 21.3 million following several midseason trades. "It definitely puts things in a situation where wins are tougher because you're dealing with a lot of inexperienced individuals," Mills said recently. The Diamondbacks (61-59) have taken full advantage, outscoring the Astros 48-18 while taking the first five meetings of the season after winning their final three against Houston last year. They used a nine-run fifth inning to win Saturday's game, remaining within five games of the NL West lead and moving within five games of the league's second wild-card spot. Houston native Chris Young led the way as the D-backs won their third straight overall, going 4 for 5 with a homer and three RBIs. His average has hovered in the low .200s for most of the summer, but he's 6 for 13 with two homers, two doubles and five RBIs in his last three games. Young is batting .419 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 15 career games in his hometown. "For some reason, when I get here and have my all family here, I am able to make every situation a big-game situation, and it's been good so far," Young said. "It could be coincidence, but for the last five or six years I have come here, I have been able to get comfortable. I have been able to get my footing in the box pretty well." Ian Kennedy (10-10, 4.35 ERA) hopes facing the Astros will help him avoid losing a third straight start. After winning four straight outings behind a 2.54 ERA, the right-hander has been roughed up in his last two, giving up 11 runs -- eight earned -- and four homers over 10 innings. He has had an up-and-down season after going 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA last year. "Well, he's not throwing the ball exactly like he was last year, and he's having a little different luck," manager Kirk Gibson said after Tuesday's 8-2 loss in St. Louis. Kennedy has made only one previous start against the Astros, pitching 6 23 innings in a 1-0 victory in Houston in 2010. Armando Galarraga (0-3, 5.75) is scheduled to pitch for the Astros. He was 3-4 with a 5.91 ERA in eight starts for the Diamondbacks in 2011 before being designated for assignment. The right-hander joined the Astros after being released earlier this year by Baltimore, and he has allowed 15 runs and 16 walks over 20 13 innings since being called up from the minors July 28.
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